It's well early into the summer transfer season, but I thought I'd try to evaluate Manchester United's possible team for next season. Since we have no clue as to whether Ronaldo will still be on the team I'm putting together a CR7 team & a non-Ronaldo team.
GK -- Edwin van Der Sar/Ben Foster -- I assumed that Foster would be the keeper going into this year, but after VDS was the hero of the Champions League Finals I think they'll share the load a bit. Foster is the future England GK (seriously, Joe Hart? Capello is awesome, but Joe "Through the Wickets" Hart????) and was great for Watford 2 years ago. This past year's knee injury set him back, but he's the future keeper of Man U. If VDS plays well again, another loan spell with Kusczak as the back-up could happen.
RB -- ANYONE BUT WES BROWN!!!!!! Seriously, if I see him on the right side one more time I'm going to puke. At times it seemed like he thought the object was to lose the ball. He decently in the CL Finals, but I wouldn't mind if the team got rid of him. Luckily Avram Grant is a joke of a coach because anyone with a brain would've attacked Man U down the RIGHT SIDE. There's a reason that Hargreaves was on the right -- because Fergie thought you had a clue. it was because Grant is such a clueless wonder that Brown wasn't the worst RB in the match. That went to Michael Essien, a great midfielder pretending to be a RB that had to stop the best player in the world. Whoops, wrong rant. Anyhow Daniel Alves and Philip Lahm are RBs I like a lot. Alves won't be cheap, especially if Chelsea get in the bidding. Lahm can play LB too, which is always helpful to give Evra a rest with Neville or O'Shea backing up (seriously, never play Wes Brown -- send him to QPR). Danny Simpson has potential, but I question him since Fergie shows zero interest in playing him. I really want Micah Richards, Now how much will Man City want and will they even want to send him to the proper Manchester team? One other guy I like is Valon Behrami at Lazio. He's injury prone, but he's very good on the ball and very fast. Also he's more MF than RB. Fergie knows RB is a weak link, but he theoretically has 3 RBs -- Brown (technically he's a RB in the same way he's a "player"), Neville (who knows what he can give you at this point, I wish he'd been able to get into more than one match) and O'Shea (really a utility player) with Simpson in reserves. Will he get a 4th? Would he then sell off Brown? One can dream.
CB -- Rio & Vidic. No changes at all. Shame Pique is gone, but I understand him wanting to play, plus we snagged him for nothing from Barca, so it's only fair he go back (with us getting some nice money in return). O'Shea backs them up again with possibly Brown backing them up too. I'd like to add a third CB just because Rio & Vidic, especially Vidic, have been injury prone. Maybe Neville can shift over here? I'd prefer picking up a vet like Lillian Thurham from Barca actually.
LB -- Patrice Evra. Any debate over whether Man U did the right thing in getting rid of Heinze in favor of Evra now? The only question mark here is whether we can resign Evra before he can leave on a free next year. If it becomes a problem, Fergie will ship him out rather than get nothing ala Flamini at Arsenal. Lahm again becomes helpful here because of his flexibility. Evra really played this past year without a back-up and I'd rather not take that chance again. I like Fabio Grosso, but I haven't heard anything about Lyon wanting to get rid of him. Plus Man U doesn't have a big track record with Italian players. Then again we had a poor record with Brazilians until Anderson. Another player I really like is Jose Goncalves at Hearts. He's not ready for prime time yet, but neither was Evra when he first came over. A year as back-up could bring him up to speed.
LM -- Nani should take over for Giggs. I think this is the final season for Giggsy and at least he broke Charlton's apperance record and got the penalty that won us the Cup. I think most of Giggs' apperances will be from the bench. Next year Chris Ramsey will come over from Cardiff, unless he signs with Arsenal or Everton. Aside from adding Ramsey I don't see any changes.
DM -- Hargreaves. An additional true DM to back up Hargreaves would be nice. Carrick is not a DM no matter how deep he plays. He's a good player, but he's not a DM. Anderson and Scholes are actually more defensive than Carrick. Not knocking Carrick, but when Hargreaves isn't bulldogging midfield, it's a different Man U. Maybe a healthy Fletcher can fill the back-up spot.
CM -- Carrick/Anderson. Rotate them in the league with Scholes saying his farewells (jeez, Scholes, Neville & Giggs may all be doing the victory lap this year...time really stops for nobody, though they gave time a good fight). In Europe they'll both play with one of the strikers stepping out for the 4-5-1, although Rooney or Tevez could move to MF in Europe with a new target man up top.
ST -- Rooney & Tevez for sure, but Saha is gone. Shame really -- if he only stayed healthy, he's a hell of a player. Time to move to a less physical league though. I think Man U absolutely brings in a legit target man this year. Rooney & Tevez did a great job this past year, but we need a Ruud van Nistelrooy-type to pair with them and to man the 4-5-1. Honestly, I miss Rudd, I want him back. Berbatov is always rumored to be coming, but if Tottenham want 20+ million pounds, I'd rather overpay for Benzema. He's younger and better. Huntelaar is a good choice too. Mario Gomez is another great player I wouldn't mind adding. One other choice could be Ibrahimovic. He disappears in Europe, but you can't deny the scoring record. Maybe Mourinho sends him our way to pop the finger at Chelsea. Manucho will be back up only, if he's not loaned out.
RB -- Sergio Ramos MUST be a part of this deal or enough cash secured to land Alves or Richards. As much as I think our scorers can help fill in the lost Ronaldo goals, there's no way we'll be stronger on the right side without the world's best player. For all of his scoring, Ronaldo's speed and footwork covered up a lot of Wes Brown's sorry play (I hate to keep harping on it, but seriously, he sucks). Without that, I shudder to think how vulnerable the right side will be without him with Brown over there. Ramos and Alves are both pretty much wingbacks with great defense, so they will help offset the lost offense of CR7.
LM -- Robinho. If Real won't include him, there's absolutely no reason to talk with them. Robinho is actually a better positional, off the ball player than Ronaldo. In this offense he would probably be a 20 goal scorer on the wing. His dribbling skills are also top notch, though not Messi/Ronaldo level.
RM -- Nani would have to switch over. If that happened, I think Man U for the first time since Giggs' early years would become a left-sided focused team with Robinho handling a lot of the attack, although it would be possible for Anderson to take over with the middle becoming the focal point, espeically with a big target man. Essentially it would be switching Nani's role from the left to the right with the attacks building on the other side of him.
The biggest loss would be finding a new penalty taker and free kick taker. I think Hargreaves is the logical replacement for free kicks -- his winner against Arsenal was unreal. On penalties, even with CR7 I think this should be spread out. Nani, Tevez, Anderson & Rooney are the best bets there.